Friday, May 23, 2008

Cardio Training vs. Resistance Training for Fat Loss

At this time of year, everyone is in a panic to lose some extra kilos before their summer holiday but before you rush out to the local gym in an attempt to shed those extra kilos, it might just pay to find out the best way to lose your excess body fat. Gyms have bulging fitness classes and every treadmill and exercise bike taken, it is easy to think that this is the right way to go. However you might be surprised to find that this is not necessarily the most effective way to rid yourself of your unwanted flabby parts.

The Science
Losing body fat is simply about creating a negative energy balance, i.e. expending more energy than we take in. We expend energy through
our metabolic rate
the energy required to take in, digest, absorb and utilise food
physical activity

Your metabolism is the key to effective, long term body fat reduction. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories to sustain itself. The higher your metabolism the more effective your body is at burning calories even whilst you are sleeping, sounds good to me. There are ways to increase your metabolism, however before I get onto that, a quick tip. Cutting calories can actually cause your metabolism to get slower, so dieting in the traditional sense will actually cause your body to go into a survival mode, enabling the body to store more fat rather than actually ridding yourself of it. So long as you have a reasonable calorie intake there is no reason to diet, however there is no substitute for eating good fresh, natural produce (but that is another discussion)

So what is the most effective way to increase your metabolism? Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in your body, so increasing the amount of muscle mass in your body substantially increases your bodys abilities to burn body fat.

Cardio Training
Physical activity of any kind burns calories, we all understand that, and actually jumping onto a treadmill and pounding out a few kilometres each day has the overall effect of burning calories whilst you are training. This is good, but you do need to stick at it, and youll need to change your training regularly to continue burning the same amount of calories. This is because you body is clever, it quickly becomes more efficient at doing this type of training i.e. not expending as much energy for the same quantity of work. Cardio training is also not the most effective way to build lean muscle mass, in fact doing to much cardio training is catabolic in nature, meaning that it actually breaks down muscle mass, you just have to look at marathon runners for evidence of this.

Resistance training
Resistance training is training your body to overcome resistance in the form of a weight, be it your body weight, using weights held in your hands, or operating the machines in your local gym. Many people shy away from this form of training for a variety of reasons. However many studies have shown this type of training is by far the most effective fat burning strategy, and guys (and especially girls), you will not end up looking like Arnie, not unless you want to live in the gym for the next 5 years.

By following a resistance training program that focuses on working multiple muscle groups in every exercise is by far the most time efficient training. In double quick time you will shed the excess body fat and develop a lean and flexible, fat burning machine. Women benefit especially from this mode of training, as it is physiologically improbable for you to make substantial gains in size. A study by Staron et al. (1990) showed that after a 20 week programme of heavy resistance training, female participants showed decreased body fat with an increase in muscle tissue, however, with no change in physical size. So the muscle you build, gives tone and shape to your figure, gives you stronger bones, improving also your body image and posture.

Resistance training has a triple effect for effect fat loss:
you burn calories whilst you are training
you are burning calories whilst your body is recovering
And you are burning more calories because your metabolism has increased with the increased muscle tissue.

Resistance Training Equipment
Save your money, dont go out and buy an expensive multi-station home gym, it is not necessary. It is not even necessary to step into a gym. I normally train at home with equipment not costing any more than 150 and you could probably get the required equipment for less than 100. Training with your own body weight is often enough, you can add resistance with some simple weights, and the use of a stability ball creates an enormous variety of workouts that gives your body a complete workout.

So you see there is an alternative to pounding out the kilometres on the treadmill, or wearing out the pedals on your exercise bike to fight the flab. Do not misunderstand what I say here, I do strongly believe that a certain amount of cardio training will help trim the body fat, but including resistance training into your workouts will definitely help you achieve your health goals in less time.

Tim Goodwin Personal Training for the busiest people

Tim is a fitness professional specialising in help the busiest people achieve more with there amateur sporting interests, and at the same time ridding them of excess body fat.

Based in Luxembourg, Tim writes about general fitness for keeping in shape, sports training for non professional sports people, goal achievement strategies and many other topics.

Visit to get a free 18 page report "How to lose weight even when you are really busy" containing a full 4 week program which you can start today!


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